What if Rest of NFL Was Wrong on Jerry Tillery?

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The Minnesota Vikings had a vacancy at defensive tackle going into the offseason, and they filled it with former first-round pick Jerry Tillery. His release from the Las Vegas Raiders was a curious one, and it leaves general manager Tom Telesco open to exposure.

What if Rest of NFL Was Wrong on Jerry Tillery?

Drafted 28th overall by the Los Angeles Chargers in the 2019 NFL Draft, Jerry Tillery spent parts of four seasons with them before being released and joining the Las Vegas Raiders. When Tillery was selected, the Chargers’ general manager was none other than Tom Telesco. Telesco was fired at the end of 2023 and moved on unceremoniously to the Raiders. In one of Telesco’s first moves with the Raiders, there was clearly no chance of rekindling a belief in a player he formally drafted.

jerry tillery
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While that’s a sensible stance to take, having released him as his boss in a previous situation just a year prior, it’s also one that leaves him wide open to being wrong. Neither the Chargers nor Raiders are seen as model franchises, and Telesco’s failure to put together a competent team or staff while wasting Justin Herbert has been something to behold. The Raiders then immediately scooped him up after observing that was equally head-scratching, and the personnel decisions could wind up saying more about the guy in charge than those on the field.

Tillery posted one of his best seasons as a professional last year. He played in all 17 games, starting six of them, and recorded 31 total tackles. He also had a pair of sacks and two tackles for loss. His six quarterback hits were the most he’s recorded since 2021, and it was the 2020 and 2021 seasons with the Chargers in which he really shined.

Vikings Offseason
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It’s fair to be skeptical of what Tillery could bring to the Vikings. He has now been released twice in five seasons after being a first-round pick. However, he now gets to work with a Brian Flores-led defense and an offense that shouldn’t force the opposite side of the ball to do all the heavy lifting.

There’s a real possibility that the traits that helped him vault into the first round after a successful showing with Notre Dame will be brought out once again.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Few positions seem more thin on Minnesota’s depth chart than the defensive tackle position. The Vikings haven’t had a strong answer there in quite some time, and they may not yet be done adding to the group. Taking a flier on Tillery, though, was hardly a bad move, and if it works out, there will be quite a bit of eyebrow-raising as to what Telesco was doing each time he decided to send him packing.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.